We’re closing in on nearly two years since the great remote work shift, an experiment many companies are continuing in the near future. New hybrid work environments and the adoption of work-from-anywhere have fundamentally changed the way organizations function, hire, and collaborate.
Fortunately, many of these changes have been for the better. A survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that employees have become more comfortable with remote work over time, with 41% adamant about staying fully remote—up from 29% in January. Other surveys have found remote employees are both happier and more productive than their in-office peers, and more likely to stick with a company offering flexible work options. The ability to avoid a commute and work with less stress has certainly been felt—just 12% of workers want to return to on-site full-time.
Yet it’s not just employee productivity and retention impacted by the remote shift. Work-from-anywhere can mean recruit-from-anywhere, opening a deeper, more competitive talent pool, while measuring success and fighting internal misuse becoming more difficult when teams are dispersed.
The real gains organizations have made by adapting to remote work are worth maintaining. By overcoming the challenges associated with building resilient, long-term remote infrastructures, leadership teams don’t just improve employee experience now, but invest in more sustainable productivity for a connected future.
Challenge 1: Measuring Productivity
One of the most persistent concerns surrounding remote work continues to be productivity, despite a 460% increase in interest from workers during the past two years. What could account for such a gulf between employees and some managers?
The truth is that some of the most common measurements for productivity rely on simple observation. Employees seen to be at their desks, ‘looking’ productive, coming into the physical office early or staying late, often were at an advantage for employee reviews.
But often, these productivity measurements are prone to bias, relying on the appearance of work rather than actual results. Now, unable to keep an eye on their employees, managers must find new, data-backed approaches for assessing success.
One way to implement real visibility is through the digital communication tools workers use. A Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform combines video, telephony, IM, and more, as part of a customizable service package, opening transparency into all channels. Leadership can see which services are used the most, where the calls and messages are going, and who is engaging with which service when.
These data points become the backbone of measuring productivity and allow stakeholders to decide where to invest resources. They also focus on the communications that determine organizational value, rather than more subjective measurements of who’s online first, or most.
At the end of the day, over-monitoring—focusing too much on the way employees work, rather than the results turned in—can become its own flaw, leading to ill will from staff and lost hours from management. The best proof employees are turning in their best work is the results themselves, delivered by the deadline and up to pre-conveyed standards. Perhaps that’s why “tools for monitoring remote employees” ranked last in a survey of the most-needed IT technology for flexible businesses.
Challenge 2: Ensuring Cybersecurity
In contrast, 61% of IT professionals noted “security solutions designed to help protect remote workers” as an immediate concern, with an additional 16% noting these upgrades are needed in the next two years. This list-topping focus on cybersecurity is hard to argue, given the recent increase in ransomware and other digital attacks on businesses of all sizes.
With an expansion in BYOD policies and workers spread across time zones, the potential for a bad actor to gain access to an employee device increases. One breached device could lead to costly loss of productivity and revenue, particularly in an attack that locks down vital functions across the network.
Hackers rely on finding one device that’s out-of-date, either in terms of hardware or software, to gain access, seeking further penetration into the organization’s files. Stopping these threats means locking them out of the system by ensuring a uniform adoption of security measures, no matter where employees are.
Device management through such programs as Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) allows this to happen. Organizations ensure the latest offerings are available to employees, who request devices from a self-service portal. Updates happen consistently as soon as they’re rolled out, removing potential weak links in a fleet’s software lineup.
Cybersecurity isn’t the only reason to consider DaaS—providing high-quality devices with similar functionality to staff gains to productivity as well. Yet for taking a major step forward in ensuring the latest security measures are enabled across a remote organization, centralized device management is undeniably effective.
Challenge 3: Engaged Competition
In years past, remote work was an enticing benefit for candidates. Now, it’s standard. What new benefits can an organization offer to draw top talent and stand apart from competition?
The door to global hiring offers a deeper talent pool than before, but with so much competition, it’s up to the employer to stand out. Flexible work schedules and benefits packages go a long way to drawing in candidate’s from hiring sites, but what really drives retention is remote organizational culture.
Recognition for remote employee achievements can be hard to provide, but when a telecommuting employee feels valued, their attitude toward their work can permanently improve. Work-from-anywhere means the virtual office becomes a place of consistency for staff, as their real-world location changes more frequently. This is the inverse of previous expectations for work and adapting to that reality is still an ongoing process.
The Road Ahead
Organizations that keep employees connected, in contact, and collaborative, from anywhere, are the workplaces talented employees seek. The underlying communications technology, facilitated by managed devices, keep this infrastructure up-and-running and reliable for staff who need that consistency to thrive. No matter how your organization evolves, the right approach to providing these services to staff will maintain satisfaction, beating out the competition thanks to the right resources.